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URA issues new guidelines on spaces for religious activities
Jun 13, 2012
By Cheryl TayThe Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), with the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), has announced new guidelines on land development and use of space for religious activities. While the government respects the need for space to conduct religious activities, "many groups have increasingly, over the years, been conducting their religious activities in spaces not zoned for religious use, such as commercial or industrial buildings," and not on place of worship (PW) sites.Hence, the URA and MCYS sought to provide religious communities with flexible means to address their needs while ensuring that "sites which are zoned as industrial and commercial in nature, retain their character and use as such.""These latest guidelines provide for limited and non-exclusive use in industrial buildings. Religious use is now allowed in industrial premises zoned Business 1 (B1) on a non-exclusive and limited basis."Under this arrangement, the URA noted that "religious groups will be able to conduct some religious activities in industrial space, without compromising the primary function and character of industrial developments."It added that the new guidelines will hopefully offer greater clarity not only to property owners but also to religious organisations.The new set of guidelines will also provide for the maximum allowable plot ratio as well as the storey height for sites zoned for PW to be increasingly relaxed, in a bid to provide religious groups with greater scope "to expand their premises and grow their space to cater to their needs.""All religious organisations must comply with these guidelines should they wish to conduct religious activities within industrial premises. Religious organisations that are currently using industrial premises for religious activities will be granted a three-year grace period from the date of this press release to comply with the guidelines," it added.